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Where 2016 Candidates Stand on Common Core

May 6, 2015 - 6:00pm

The names keep coming for the list of potential 2016 presidential nominees -- and with a crowded pool, several issues will be hot talking points that will allow candidates to separate themselves from each other. Candidates will more than likely discuss immigration, the economy and job creation, but theyll also be duking out one of the most controversial issues in American education: Common Core.

Heres where the candidates -- and potential candidates -- stand on the national education standards:

Jeb Bush

Although he hasnt officially announced his candidacy, Bush is undoubtedly the most die-hard Common Core supporter among his GOP primary counterparts, an issue which could prove to be problematic for the former Florida governor come the 2016 primary.

Initially, Bush was very upfront about his support for the national education standards, even going so far as to dismiss critics of the standards, saying they offered no real solutions.

But now, as Bush creeps closer and closer to a potential face-off for president, his approach toward Common Core has changed. Although he still remains on board with the standards, Bush hasnt directly addressed them or referred to Common Core by name in what seems like quite some time.

"Raising expectations and having accurate assessments of where kids are is essential for success, and I'm not going to back down on that," Bush said during a congressional fundraiser in Iowa earlier this year.

Ben Carson

An author and surgeon, Ben Carson has attempted to set himself apart from other 2016 GOP primary nominees by maintaining hes not a politician, but his position on Common Core falls in line with the majority of Republican politicians who have thrown their hats in the 2016 ring.

Carson points to a troubling trend of the U.S. Department of Education trying to dictate how children are educated in schools.

This must stop and Common Core must be overturned, wrote Carson on his website. Our education system must be run by involved parents and engaged teachers and principals. Any attempt by faceless federal bureaucrats to take over our local schools must be defeated.

Hilary Clinton

Clinton hasnt directly come out and pledged her support for the standards, but did seem to endorse them in an event held in Iowa this week. A high school teacher, asking Clinton a question in a panel, called Common Core a wonderful step in the right direction in improving American education and Clinton agreed.

It was about coming up with a core of learning that we might expect students to achieve across our country, no matter what kind of school district they were in, no matter how poor their family was. That there wouldn't be two tiers of education," Clinton said on the standards creation.

Up until this point, Clinton had been mostly quiet on the standards.

Ted Cruz

The Texas senator has come out strongly against the standards, saying he would want to repeal them entirely.

Imagine repealing every word of Common Core, said Cruz, during his campaign announcement speech at Liberty University in April.

Carly Fiorina

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO took aim at Jeb Bush by blasting his stance on Common Core.

I dont tend to agree with Common Core -- you and I have had this discussion before -- his answer on Common Core is that, Well its not intended to be a heavy-handed bureaucratic program. Its intended to be a set of nationwide standards, Fiorina told Laura Ingraham in April. Bureaucracies only know one way: Its called heavy-handed. So if you get a federal bureaucracy, or in some cases even a state bureaucracy, involved in anything, it will become heavy-handed. Thats how weve gotten bigger and bigger government under both Republicans and Democrats.

Mike Huckabee

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee originally supported Common Core as late as 2013, but also said he supported parental choice to educate children however they see fit.

While I believe such standards make sense for public schools in math and English, I support parents' freedom of choice to educate their children however they want, including homeschooling, regardless of the standards that are applied in a public school setting, he wrote in 2013.

Fast forward to 2015 and Huckabee has made an about-face on Common Core -- now he opposes the standards.

I oppose watering down our education standards or automatically promoting every student, he said. We must kill Common Core and restore common sense.

Rand Paul

It should come as no surprise that Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., isnt a fan of Common Core because hes generally against so-called federal intrusion.

If you have a national curriculum and rules, youll never get new ideas. Once education is nationalized one person can insert bias into the curriculum, Paul said in a video on his website. Thats why I oppose Common Core.

Paul is gearing up to make Common Core a big deal among his fellow Republicans. Paul has said any candidate who supports the standards probably doesnt have much of a chance of winning the GOP nomination in 2016.

Marco Rubio

Rubio is firmly against Common Core, which puts him at a stark contrast with fellow Floridian Jeb Bush.

Rubio has said he has concerns with creating a national curriculum. He explained in 2013 he was worried Common Core would be used by the federal government to leverage funding to force states to adopt certain curriculums.

State and local levels are the best places to come up with curriculum reform, and it's something the federal government shouldnt be deeply involved in, said Rubio.

Rick Santorum

Although he hasnt formally announced his candidacy (hell make an announcement later this month), Santorum has been a strong voice against Common Core. He even penned an entire column speaking out against the standards.

What troubles me the most is how fast these standards were adopted and how little transparency there was in the process, wrote Santorum, urging parents to assert educational control over their children. Lets start a broad movement to put parents back in charge of the educational system. Fighting Common Core and other top-down education reforms is a good start.

Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen by email at or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen

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